From its commencement in the middle of the nineteenth century, rates were payable on residential and agricultural and commercial properties. The tax is payable primarily by the occupier. The principles applicable were identical to those in respect of commercial rates.
The Local Government (Finance Provisions) Act 1978 removed rates in respect of domestic property. This effectively exempted almost all residential property.
Rates could in principle be chargeable in respect of non-domestic elements, worksheds and certain other buildings within the curtilage of a dwelling house. This was rarely encountered in practice.
Local Government Funding
The abolition of domestic rates necessitated the funding of local government services centrally. This ultimately placed considerable burden on the central exchequer. Most Western democracies have a formal property or equivalent tax payable to the local authorities.
Its absence in Ireland was criticized as a major weakness in the tax base by numerous bodies including the NESC, SRI and others through the 1980s and ’90s. The dramatic erosion in the tax base following the 2008 crisis necessitated the reintroduction of a property tax. They also found expression in the temporary non-principal private residence charge, the household tax, and ultimately the local property tax.
In the interim period, a number of attempts to raise charges on taxes were made with a focus both on property and autonomous local authority funding. Each such charge encountered significant political opposition and protests.
It was argued amongst other things that the then high rates of stamp duty (top rates were between six and 9 percent) and VAT on new houses (applicable in Ireland at 12.5% later 13.5%, but 0% in the United Kingdom) were proxies for a local property tax. Local authorities also saw through a cover as much by way of infrastructural charges under planning permissions as legislation would allow.
Local Government (Financial Provisions No.2) Act 1983 permitted local authorities to raise certain service charges. These were generally raised for water and refuse. However, they caused substantial opposition and there was wide- scale non-payment.
Legislation was introduced delimiting the powers of charge. Local authorities cut off water and other services. Ultimately the charges were abolished in 1997.
The Waste Management Act authorised the privatiSation of waste domestic refuse services and charging of refuse charges. Many local authorities privatized their waste services so that service charges were payable to outside contractors.
Authorities maintained rate charges and continue to charge for refuse collection under the Waste Management Act. Tagging and/or flat rate charges apply in councils, areas where the service has not been privatized entirely.
Residential Property Tax
In the interim and in conjunction with the introduction of local service charges, a very limited residential property tax was introduced. This was not a local government tax.
It applied only to a relatively small minority of higher value houses. There was both an income and valuation test. The tax raised relatively little revenue and was abolished in the early 1990s.
The tax was charged at 1.5 percent of the net market value of all residential property owned and occupied over a specified limit. It did not apply to rented property. Initially it was charged at 1.5 percent. After 1994 until its abolition there were progressive bans of 1 percent to 1.5 percent and 2 percent.
The individual must own and occupy the property. This total income from all sources must exceed a certain threshold which in the mid-1990s was £25000 per annum. The market property must exceed £75000 pounds. Originally the limit was £90000 pounds. The tax withstood constitutional challenge.
The tax charged the entire household income. There are exemptions from aggregation in respect of persons over a certain age, persons of income and capacity.
The original market valuation limit was £65,000 . This was later raised to as high as £96000 and back to £75,000 by 1994.
Where an owner owned several or occupied several properties they are aggregated. Where the property was owned and occupied by two persons the exemption limit was divided in two.
The tax applied to a person domiciled in the state on the valuation date. The valuation date was 5th April annually.
RPT Limits & Relief
Marginal relief was available where the person’s income exceeded the threshold by a certain amount only. This limited the total tax payable to a percentage of the excess.
Most income was counted for the purpose of the tax. There are exemptions from certain types of payment.
There was relief for persons who had children, was resident. This depended on the number of children. The relief was generally 10 percent of the tax per child.
The revenue commissioners could postpone and defer payment in the event of, on the grounds that it would cause excessive hardship. After mid-1990s it could be paid by instalments.
In 1993 a requirement was introduced for certificate of clearance from residential property tax on the sale of residential property above the relevant limits. This mandatory requirement meant that the Revenue could reassess under declarations of tax. This was frequently done so that arrears etc. will be payable from the proceeds of sale.
The tax itself survived the clearance certificate procedure itself survived the abolition of the tax. The clearance certificate procedure was not abolished for several years. This meant that arrears of the tax and considerable interest had be collected on sale of the properties for many years after the abolition of the tax.
The first post-financial crisis property tax was a Non-Principal Private Residence (NPPR) charged up. This was introduced in 2009. It was a €200 charge payable to local authorities on residential properties other than the owner’s principal residence.
The charge applied to all residential properties in the state including rented property, houses, apartments, holiday homes, vacant property, properties owned by companies. It did not apply to movable caravans, vessels, vehicles etc.
A number of exemptions applied to the tax. They included
- The owner’s principal private residence.
- Spouse’s principal private residence in the event of separation or divorce.
- Property occupied by a non-rent paying relation of the owner or his spouse or a child or other person in the ward’s care. The second property must be within two kilometres of the home or be a self-contained granny-flat type property.
- Property that is part of a trading stock of a business has not been used as a dwelling or source of income since construction (i.e. unlet, unsold new dwelling).
- Certain property vested in state authorities including local authorities and the HSC.
- Property owned by a person who has a long term physical or mental incapacity who is resident elsewhere due to such incapacity.
- Premises liable to commercial rates.
A property let under the Rental Room Scheme is not deemed a second property. There were exemptions for persons who are moving properties. A refund might be obtained in respect of a second residential property where it was acquired within one year of liability date and the first property is sold within six months of the liability date.
The liability date for the tax is 31st March and the payment received by 31st May. Failure to pay by that date caused penalties to arise. There was a late penalty of €20 per month or part month that the charge may have been paid. The effect of this penalty at an effect of 120 percent per annum meant that if NPPR was not paid for two to three years be some due must be able to several thousand euros.
An owner liable to NPPR had a duty to make a declaration to the authority in a prescribed format. Failure to do so was potentially subject to conviction in the district court of a fine up to 2000 euro.
The NPPR charge is payable by the owner. The owner was defined to include any person entitled to receive the rent whether in his own right or as trustee or agent on behalf of another. Can sort of include for example a receiver.
If the property is held on a lease of 20 years or more the tenant is deemed owner. Where there are several co-owners, each is liable to pay jointly and severally. Payment by one discharges the others. Under general principles, the payer would be entitled to contribution from the other owners.
Owners are liable to the tax irrespective of their residence. Foreign owners are expected to pay through the Internet.
Where a property is transferred or sold, any individual to whom the sale proceeds are paid or advises in relation to the sale, typically a solicitor, has further secondary liability in respect of the charges and fees (2011 Act?).
Where a unit is subdivided the charges applicable to each subunit in contrast of property subject to a number of separate tenants is subject to a single charge.
The so-called €100 household charge was introduced for the year 2012 under the Local Government Household Charge Act 2011. It was intended as a temporary first step towards a local authority dedicated property tax in accordance with requirements of the state’s Memorandum of Understanding with the IMF/EU/ECB “Troika”.
The charge applied to all residential properties in the State. There were exemptions for properties left vacant due to long term infirmity of the owner. Properties subject to commercial rights, properties held by housing authorities, properties held as part of the trading stock of a developer etc., not sold since construction.
A waiver was permitted in respect of houses in unfinished housing estates and for individuals in receipt of mortgage interest supplements.
Household charge was due on 1st January in each year and was payable within three months. In effect, the charge applied only to the calendar year 2012 and was rolled up into the local property tax.
The household charge is payable by the owner. The property is rented to another, the owner is liable. Therefore, unlike most property taxes in Europe and Great, the owner, not the occupier is liable.
If the property is leased for a period of more than 20 years then the tenant is liable, being effectively regarded as a quasi-owner irrespective of the rent level.
Where the property is subdivided into separate units, each part was liable to the tax.
Where an owner dies, his personal representative is liable once a grant of representation is issued. The due date is postponed until after the grant issues, and there is three months to make payment.
There are a number of methods by which the household charge could be paid. Collection was with the local authorities. The charge could be paid online. To be paid to the local government management agency which administered the charge for our local authority. Payment can also be made directly to the local authority itself.
There is provision for payment of the charge in four instalments of €25o each. This was required to be done by registration online and direct debit.
Personal representatives were liable as from the date of grant of representation. Liability was delayed until three months after the grant.
Unpaid household charge is charged on the property for a period of 12 years. After this period the purchaser without knowledge of the facts took free from it. A formal certificate of charge may be issued and is generally required on sale. The matter is usually covered by the LPT account
The provision set out above in relation to the NPPR charge applies. A certificate of discharge is effectively required on sales. Later legislation made the agent or solicitor receiving sale proceeds liable for the tax if not paid.
Unlike the NPPR tax, a modest rate of interest only applied. There was a late payment fee of 10 percent if payment is less than six months, 20 percent if 6 to 12 and 30 percent where over a year late.
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